INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — From prom to pits, Sage Karam has been money at Indianapolis.
The 19-year-old Indy 500 rookie has danced in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway paddock at a makeshift prom, was runner-up to Scott Dixon in the pit crew competition and become an instant fan favorite and media darling with his carefree persona.
"Where's all the young girls?" he quipped before Saturday's autograph session.
Plenty of 'em were lined up for the blue-eyed, blond-haired Karam. He's kind of hard to miss: Karam's mug was pasted on oversized $100 bills passed out around the track, a fitting tribute for his SK$ moniker.
Karam, who graduates high school next month starts 31st on Sunday in his IndyCar debut. He set a top-15 finish as a reasonable goal in an entry that is jointly fielded by Ganassi Racing and Dreyer & Reinbold Kingdom Racing.
"My friends think it's pretty cool," Karam said. "I haven't seen a bunch of them in a while and we're going to have some fun."
The line came to a grinding halt at Saturday's autograph session at the table where Karam and Sebastian Saavedra were eager to greet fans. The issue? Buddy Lazier had not arrived and many of the fans in line were waiting specifically for the 1996 winner. After a few minutes of no one approaching the table, Saavedra slid into Lazier's empty seat and signed about dozen of his autograph cards. He pushed the signed cards forward and the fans began moving through the line again, taking the Lazier card with them.
"I guess we're a bunch of No Buddy's," Karam wisecracked.
Karam, meanwhile, was his own autograph hound: He had IndyCar's security official take a poster of the starting field to be autographed by the other 32 drivers in Sunday's race.
He posed for pictures with Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck and Olympic figure skater Gracie Gold at the Indy 500 parade and posted them on his Instagram account.
Karam made a splash when he attended a prom — a big party, really — with his girlfriend, Anna de Ferran. He missed because it was the same night as Indy 500 practice. Karam graduates from Nazareth (Pennsylvania) Area High School on June 10.
"This whole month has been a trip," Karam said. "We're just hoping for a great finish to cap it off."
Here are five things to know headed into Sunday's race:
EASY PICK: Michael Andretti believes the winning Indianapolis 500 driver drives for Andretti Autosport. He believes son, Marco, will get it done on Sunday and win the first Indy 500 for the family since Mario Andretti's 1969 victory.